Enhancing and Resourcing the Rural Church

An implementation Steering Group has recently been established to take the above programme forward.  With Glyn Evans as Chair and Charles Chadwick as Executive Secretary, the team is also looking to recruit 3 new lay members, one from each of the 3 rural Archdeaconries.  The Steering Group has therefore asked us to draw your attention to 2 events to unveil the work of the project, and encourage you to consider attending.  These will be held on Saturday 17 June in Buckinghamshire, and Saturday 24 June in Oxfordshire. Posters will be sent out shortly to all rural benefices and parishes and the events will also appear on e-news in due course, but do make a note of these dates now.

As we know, the Diocese of Oxford is one of the largest dioceses in the country. 30% of its parishes have a population of under 500.  If the Countryside Commission’s definition of a rural place, where the population is under 3,000, is used, 50% of parishes qualify as rural. Since late 2014 a small working group, set up by the Board of Mission, has been considering many of the facets of how the rural church expresses itself, how it is experienced, and how it may be enhanced and resourced for the future.

At the start of 2017 the Board of Mission endorsed the report of the working group which has a series of recommendations that address nine identified areas which impinge on the life and flourishing of the rural church:

  • Addressing the environment, context and well-being of those who serve in a rural context
  • Raising vocations
  • Ensuring the future of church buildings
  • Exploring different models of governance in Multi Parish Benefices
  • Strengthening finance
  • Supporting rural schools
  • Engaging with the changes new housing brings
  • Training for people in leadership roles
  • Replenishing the rural church for the future

These recommendations are not intended to be a ‘top down’ programme, rather they are designed to offer thinking and resources for the rural church across the diocese. To that end we are calling the ongoing work The Enhancing and Resourcing the Rural Church programme.


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